ucanews.com reporter, Manila
Updated: December 13, 2018 08:42 AM GMT
Philippine communist rebels stand to attention in a jungle camp in a province north of Manila. (ucanews.com file photo)
Communist rebels have threatened to launch attacks across the country in protest against the extension of martial law for another year in the southern region of Mindanao.
"All units must exert all possible effort to punish the worst fascist units and officers of the [military] committing grave crimes against the people," the statement said.
The communists also called on the Filipino people "to further intensify their protests against martial law in Mindanao."
The Philippine Congress approved a request by President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law across the Mindanao region on Dec. 12.
Duterte had claimed terrorist groups were still recruiting members and carrying out violent acts in Mindanao.
Congress had already extended martial law twice over the year because of reported violence in the southern region.
The communists warned that martial law will only lead to "more killings, abductions, and torture against the people."
Human rights group Karapatan accused the Duterte administration of "recycling excuses and repeating lies that martial law is about security and peace."
"We protest with the people, and demand that martial law end now," Karapatan spokeswoman Cristina Palabay said.
Mindanao civil society leader Samira Gutoc from Marawi said that "martial law had failed its purpose" a year after her city was attacked by terrorist gunmen.
"Martial law has not created jobs, nor put food on the table," said Gutoc, who recently received recognition for her peace-building efforts in Marawi.
"If the government is sincere about the welfare of the people of Mindanao, it should focus more on their socioeconomic needs," she said.
Tribal group Katribu appealed to the Filipino public to unite behind the call to end martial law in Mindanao and support its continuing struggle to protect ancestral lands.